Manafort trial – live updates: Prosecution to rest case after week of salacious testimony

The trial of Paul Manafort, former chairman of the Donald Trump campaign, resumes once more today in Virginia.

The case, now entering its ninth day, is the first to result from charges brought by FBI special counsel Robert Mueller as part of his investigation into possible Russian election meddling.

Mr Manafort, who stepped down from the Trump team in August 2016 after being accused of illegally receiving $12m to promote Ukraine’s president Viktor Yanukovych, was indicted on 12 counts in October 2017, rising to 32 in February, with the charges against him ranging from conspiracy against the US, money laundering, acting as an unregistered foreign agent, failure to file accounts and tax evasion.

Prosecutors are currently seeking to prove the ex-lobbyist obtained millions of dollars in bank loans under false pretences.

Follow the latest developments in the trial below after a week of salacious testimony in which former Manafort deputy and business partner Rick Gates admitted to falsifying documents on behalf of his mentor.

Live Updates

What we can expect today are more bankers from Bank of California, Genesis Capital and the Federal Savings Bank of Chicago to take the stand and give their own testimony in relation to the felony charges Mr Manafort is facing.

It’s worth restating that the prosecution is unlikely to delve into direct questions relating to the Donald Trump camp or its possible connection to Russian agents interested in fixing the result of the 2016 US presidential election during the current trial.

 

The Manafort case is about getting to the bottom of apparent financial irregularities concerning the individual and his time working as a political consultant in Eastern Europe between 2006 and 2016.

 

It does, however, establish a clear link between key Trump allies and associates of Russian president Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin.

Here’s The Independent’s US team on Rick Gates’ testimony this week, in which he revealed details of secret bank accounts in Cyprus and his own extramarital affair, insisting the luxury lifestyle of “fancy hotels” he was accustomed to was not paid for with embezzled cash.

 

Prosecutor Kevin Downing asked the 46-year-old witness: “There’s another life, right, the other Rick Gates? The secret Rick Gates?”

 

Mr Manafort’s defence team is expected to attack Mr Gates’ credibility when it makes its case next week.

 

 

 

If you need reminding of the background to this complex case, here’s The Independent’s Mythili Sampathkumar with an introduction to Paul Manafort, the charges against him and the possible ramifications for his old employer, President Donald Trump.

 

Yesterday’s proceedings had begun with a surprise near-apology from outspoken Judge Thomas Selby Ellis III, who had accused attorneys working on behalf of Mr Mueller of allowing IRS agent Michael Welch to watch the trial from the public gallery, potentially biasing the witness’s evidence.

 

“I was critical of counsel for… allowing an expert to remain in the courtroom. You may put that aside… I may well have been wrong,” he said.

Citizens Bank employee Melinda James, a mortgage loan assistant, told jurors how she discovered discrepancies in the information Mr Manafort had put on his $3.4m loan application, including holes in his claims about a New York City property.

 

The defendant had told her the house in question would be used as a second residence, she said, but later found it listed for rental on a real estate website. Her testimony was supported by Airbnb executive Darin Evenson, who told jurors Mr Manafort’s New York properties were listed for rental throughout much of 2015 and 2016.

 

She also reported that Mr Manafort had erroneously told her there were no other outstanding mortgages on a separate New York property, when in fact there were. The defendant had meanwhile signed paperwork indicating he understood that he could face criminal or civil penalties if he lied to the bank. 

Yesterday at the courthouse in Alexandria, Virginia, the prosecution turned their attentions to bank fraud allegations against Mr Manafort after spending several days focusing on the tax evasion accusations leveled against him, all of which the defendant denies.

 

This followed the brutal interrogation of former aide Rick Gates on Wednesday, when the government’s star witness was grilled on his “secret life” and accused of telling “so many lies that you can’t remember”.

Welcome to The Independent‘s live blog on the unfolding trial of Paul Manafort. 

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